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Centaury

Scientific Name(s): Centaurium erythraea Rafn.
Common Name(s): Bitter herb, Centaurri herba, Centaury, Centaury gentian, Centaury herb, Christ's ladder, Common centaury, Feverwort, Filwort, Lesser centaury, Minor centaury, Red centaury

Clinical Overview

Use

Centaury has been used to treat snakebite, fever, anorexia, jaundice, and GI complaints such as bloating, dyspepsia, and flatulence. It also has been used as a sedative and topically for freckles and spots. It is reputed as an aromatic bitter and tonic and acts on the liver and kidneys to "purify the blood."

Dosing

There is no recent published clinical evidence to guide dosage of centaury. The German commission E monograph calls for 1 to 2 g of herb daily, while other uses for dyspepsia specify as much as 6 g.

Contraindications

Contraindications have not yet been identified.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

There are no known adverse reactions.

Toxicology

There are no known reports of toxicity. Because safety of centaury taken during pregnancy has not been established, its use during this time is best avoided.

Botany

Centaurium consists of approximately 40 species (annuals or biennials) that can vary according to area, size, and other situations. Examples include C. spicatum (Australian species), E. latifolia (broad-leaved centaury), and the German species of C. pulchellum (dwarf centaury) and C. vulgare. The last 2 have similar effects to C. erythraea but are more scarce and, therefore, not used for medicinal purposes.

Centaury is a small, annual herb, native to Europe and naturalized in the United States. It thrives in boggy meadows as well as in dry dunes. Its stiff, square stem is quite distinctive and ranges from approximately 7 to 30 cm in height. The root is fibrous and woody. The plant has pale green, oval leaves, a capsule fruit, and light pink to red flowers. The whole herb (Centaurii herba) is used in medicine. The dried preparation is easily identified by red particles (dried flower), among the pale green leaf matter.Osol 1955, USDA 2016, Weiss 2000 Synonyms are Erythraea centaurium, C. umbellatum Gilbert, C. minus Moench.

History

Centaury has been used traditionally since the 10th century, possibly even by Saxon herbalists for treating fever, hence the name "feverwort." Traditionally, centaury has been used as a remedy for snakebite, anorexia, and GI complaints such as bloating, dyspepsia, and flatulence. It is reputed to be an aromatic bitter and tonic, and to act on the liver and kidneys to purify the blood. Use of centaury as an anthelminthic and febrifuge has been reported, as well as a use as a sedative, for jaundice, and topically for freckles and spots on the skin.Blumenthal 1998, Newall 1996, Duke 2002

Chemistry

C. erythraea contains several iridoid constituents including gentiopicroside, centapicrin, centauroside, erythrocentaurin, amongst others, which are responsible for the bitter characteristics of the plant.

Alkaloids, xanthones and phenolic acids have been identified, and are similar to those of gentian. Triterpenoids and sterols including amyrin, crataegolic and oleanic acids, erythrodiol, and sitosterol stigmasterol, campesterol, and brassicasterol have also been described. Other components found in the plant include flavonoids, fatty acids, alkenes, waxes, resins, and essential oil.Aberham 2011, Barillas 2000, Duke 1992, Glatz 2000, Schmidt 2000, Valentao 2000

Uses and Pharmacology

Anti-inflammatory/Antipyretic

Animal data

Anti-inflammatory and antipyretic, but not analgesic actions, of aqueous extracts of the plant have been shown in several animal models.Berkan 1991, Lacroix 1973

Clinical data

Research reveals no clinical data regarding the use of centaury as an anti-inflammatory agent.

Other uses

Diuretic activity in rats has been reported.Haloui 2000

Certain xanthones may possess antimutagenic actions against several strains of Salmonella typhimuriumSchimmer 1996; while mutagenicity itself has been demonstrated for methanolic extracts of related gentian (Gentiana lutea L.).WHO 1999

Dosing

There is no published clinical evidence to guide dosage of centaury. The German Commission E monograph calls for 1 to 2 g of herb daily, while other uses for dyspepsia specify as much as 6 g.Blumenthal 1998, Duke 2002

Pregnancy / Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.Duke 2002, Newall 1996

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Information is lacking. A case report of hepatotoxicity existsInformation is lacking in general.Blumenthal 1998, Duke 2002 A case report of hepatotoxicity exists; Sychev however, causality was not established and has been questioned.Sychev 2011 however, causality was not established.Stahlmann 2012

Toxicology

Information is limited.6 Mutagenicity has been demonstrated for methanolic extracts of related gentian (Gentiana lutea L.) in Salmonella assays.WHO 1999

References

Aberham A, Pieri V, Croom EM Jr, Ellmerer E, Stuppner H. Analysis of iridoids, secoiridoids and xanthones in Centaurium erythraea, Frasera caroliniensis and Gentiana lutea using LC-MS and RP-HPLC. J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2011;54(3):517-25.21050691
Barillas W, Beerhues L. 3-Hydroxybenzoate:coenzyme A ligase from cell cultures of Centaurium erythraea: isolation and characterization. Biol Chem. 2000;381:155-160.10746747
Berkan T, Ustunes L, Lermioglu F, et al. Antiinflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic effects of an aqueous extract of Erythraea centaurium. Planta Med. 1991;57:34-37.2062955
Blumenthal M, ed. The Complete German Commission E Monographs. Boston, MA: American Botanical Council, 1998.
Centaurium erythraea. USDA, NRCS. 2016. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, September 2016). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA. Accessed September 2016.
Duke J. Handbook of Biologically Active Phytochemicals and Their Activities. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, Inc.; 1992. http://www.ars-grin.gov/duke/. Accessed 2016.
Duke J, Bogenschutz-Godwin M, duCellier J, Duke P. Handbook of medicinal herbs. 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2002.
Glatz Z, et al. Determination of gentiopicroside in extracts of Centaurium erythraea and Gentiana lutea by micellar electrokinetic capillary chromatography. J Liq Chromatogr Relat Technol. 2000;23:1831-1839.
Haloui M, Louedec L, Michel J, et al. Experimental diuretic effects of Rosmarinus officinalis and Centaurium erythraea. J Ethnopharmacol. 2000;71:465-472.10940584
Lacroix R, Merad M, Lacroix J, et al. Algerian pharmacopeia. 2 plants with antipyretic properties: Pt ammoides and Erythraea centaurium [in French]. Tunis Med. 1973;51:327-331.4794069
Newall C, et al. Herbal Medicines. London, England: Pharmaceutical Press; 1996:67.
Osol A, et al. The Dispensatory of the United States of America. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: JB Lippincott Co; 1955:1620.
Radix Gentianae Luteae. In: WHO Monographs on Selected Medicinal Plants. Vol 13. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 1999.
Schimmer O, Mauthner H. Polymethoxylated xanthones from the herb of Centaurium erythraea with strong antimutagenic properties in Salmonella typhimurium. Planta Med. 1996;62:561-564.
Schmidt W, Peters S, Beerhues L. Xanthone 6-hydroxylase from cell cultures of Centaurium erythraea RAFN and Hypericum androsaemium L. Phytochemistry. 2000;53:427-431.10731018
Stahlmann R, Naber KG. Letter to the editor. Int J Risk Saf Med. 2012;24(2):121-122; author reply 123-124.22751194
Sychev DA, Semenov AV, Polyakova IP. A case of hepatic injury suspected to be caused by Canephron N, a Centaurium Hill containing phytotherapeutics. Int J Risk Saf Med. 2011;23(1):5-6.21507780
Valentao P, et al. Tetraoxygenated xanthones from Centaurium erythraea. Nat Prod Lett. 2000;14:319-323.
Weiss R, et al. Herbal Medicine. 2d ed. New York, NY: Georg Theme Verlag; 2000:52-54.

Disclaimer

This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

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